THE Home Secretary Theresa May is returning to Bournemouth for the 90th annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

The conference, which is being held at the Bournemouth International Centre for the sixth consecutive year, will focus on the recommendations made by an independent review of the federation, which represents frontline police officers.

The review, which calls for “fundamental reform” of the organisation, was set-up following criticism of the police in the wake of the “plebgate” scandal, which resulted in one officer being jailed for a year.

In an open letter to his colleagues, Steve Williams, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “The 2014 conference is set to be the most important any of us will ever attend as we usher in a period of major change resulting from the independent review.

“Our joint purpose this week is to address the issues arising from the independent review and, through discussion, form a clear, unified vision of the direction the federation will move in.”

More than 1,000 delegates from 43 forces throughout England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and overseas are expected to attend, as well as representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Superintendents’ Association and senior officials from the Home Office.

The conference, which runs from Monday to Wednesday, will feature talks from senior police officials, as well as the Home Secretary Theresa May, pictured inset, and Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.

Tony Tester, chairman of the Dorset Police Federation, said he was proud to welcome the conference back to Bournemouth.

He said: “It will be an interesting conference. We are hoping that the majority of delegates will get behind the recommendations being made and we end up on a positive note.

“It’s time for change on national issues but equally it’s important to realise how much hard work is done by the federation at a local level.”

The 'Plebgate' affair

IN SEPTEMBER 2012 Andrew Mitchell, then chief whip of the Conservatives, was accused of calling police officers “plebs” after they refused to let him cycle through the main gates at Downing Street.

He resigned from his post in October 2012 claiming “damaging publicity” meant he could no longer do his job.

In December 2012 CCTV footage was published which challenged the police officer’s version of events.

The officers said Mr Mitchell used of a number of expletives in front several members of the public but the footage showed no one other than the officers involved were present.

In February this year, PC Keith Wallis admitted emailing his local MP falsely claiming he was a member of the public who had witnessed the row.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of misconduct in public office and was sentenced to one year imprisonment.

PCs James Glanville and Gillian Weatherley were both sacked for leaking information to the press in relation to the “plebgate” affair.

Officers contradicted
THREE weeks after the “plebgate” row Mr Mitchell met with representatives of his local Police Federation.

Following the meeting the three officers told the press Mr Mitchell refused to elaborate on what he had said and called for his resignation.

In October 2013, the Independent Press Complaints Commission released a transcript of a recording of the meeting, made by Mr Mitchell, apparently contradicting the officers’ account of what had been said. 

It shows Mr Mitchell admitted swearing but denied using the term “pleb”.

The IPCC set-up a review into the conduct of the three officers. However, the Police Federation claimed the IPCC investigation was “unlawful” and launched legal proceedings against the police watchdog. The investigation has been suspended while a judicial review is heard.